Using Paw Balms and Waxes
Dog paw balm is handy for helping dry cracking, scrapes and cuts from fun at the beach and on our rocky trails, tenderness from playing a little too hard, or a little extra paw TLC in hot/cold conditions. New to using balms? See our tips at the end of the post for paw application. In addition to paw care and repair, balm is handy for other doggy dry spots. Our dogs don’t suffer from dry noses, but old boy Oli does have senior dog callouses. Despite his abundance of beds he still loves sprawling in the garden and, in warmer weather, on cool floors. Massaging his elbows with balm has done wonders. Many dogs (ours included) try to lick tender paws and other sore spots, so keeping things natural makes me more comfortable. All the more so since our dogs often try to lick any cream or lotion that we apply, no matter how good or bad it might taste or what’s might be in it.
Safety first, furfriends! All the ingredients I use are food grade for the occasional post-application lick safety, but paw balms (bought or made) are not intended to be eaten in quantity.
Homemade Dog Paw Balm (Paw Wax) Recipe and Instructions
Making Homemade Dog Paw Balm
A little paw balm goes a long way and lasts quite a while. To help you adjust your recipe, I’ve provided it in easy volume ratios as well as an example with quantity measurements. You may like to keep your batch sizes small or make a bigger batch for sharing or gifting with friends.
The ingredients and supplies that I use for my paw balm are a dog-suitable skin butter, coconut oil, olive oil or sweet almond oil, beeswax, and vitamin E oil, and you can adjust these to best suit personal preferences for ingredients and consistency. You will also need a small pot or double boiler and suitable tins or jars for storage.
Firm paw balm (paw wax) ingredients:
Paw balm ingredient ratios (by volume, not weight) make it easy for you to scale a recipe up or down. The ratios I use for a firm paw wax are as follow:
- 1 part shea butter
- 1 part mango butter
- 2 parts coconut oil
- 2 parts olive or sweet almond oil
- 3 parts beeswax (pastilles, small pieces, or chopped/grated for easier melting)
- Vitamin E oil (optional)
Example with quantity measurements (makes approximately four containers in the size pictured here):
- 1/4 cup shea butter
- 1/4 cup mango butter
- 1/2 cup coconut oil
- 1/2 cup olive or sweet almond oil
- 3/4 cup beeswax (pastilles, small pieces, or chopped/grated for easier melting)
- Vitamin E oil
Making the paw balm:
In a small pot or double boiler, stir together over low heat until melted to combine. Add a small quantity of Vitamin E oil (optional) and pour into small tins or jars. Cool at room temperature until firm, check consistency (you can re-melt and adjust if needed). The colour will vary depending on your ingredients. It generally looks yellowish when liquid, then clouds and slowly goes opaque as it sets. Cap the jars for storage once the balm has cooled and set firm. Consistency will vary with ingredients and your ambient conditions.
Paw balm storage:
The paw balm can be stored at normal ambient temperatures, but temperatures will affect your consistency. Coconut oil has a low melting point, which helps soften this balm quickly in your warm hands for application. High ambient temperatures can cause the balm to soften or even reliquify. To avoid spills, take care not to store in hot places (parked car, hot tent, etc) unless you’re using well-sealed jars stored upright. You may prefer a firmer mix for summer and creamier/looser mix for winter, especially if you are using the balm in hot/cold outdoor conditions, such as camping or hiking.
Customising Your Paw Balm Consistency
After some experimentation, I settled on the ratios above. It’s firm enough to stay solid even in our warmer seasons, but a little scraping softens quickly in the hand for application. If you prefer a looser creamier mixture, you can add more butter/oil or use less beeswax. For a firmer mixture, you can use less oil or add more beeswax. Easy peasy. Not quite happy with the texture? Not to worry – you can re-melt the balm and and add some adjustments to the ingredients to change the texture. Once you’ve found the perfect fit for you use and your pup’s paws, make a note of your preferred custom mix for future batches. Feel free to let me know too, and I can include it in a note here for others who might be looking for different textures or ingredient swaps. Thanks!
Prefer a Creamy Paw Balm Instead?
You can get a creamier mixture by adjusting the consistency as noted above, but the balms will still have a waxy texture which is part of the protection of a paw wax. If you’re prefer a cream instead of a wax, check out our recipe for homemade whipped paw butter balm. It uses similar ingredients, but is wax-free and whipped to a beautifully airy cream for easy application. It’s a handy moisturiser or skin balm, but doesn’t included the protection of a wax.
Additional Tips and Tricks
Extra DIY Dog Paw Balm Tips:
- The supplies used in this balm may be available from your local grocery or natural products store, or you can source them online through local specialists or large suppliers, such as Amazon.
- Reuse containers where you can to reduce waste and save money. Win win!
- You can use other dog-safe body butters instead of the shea and/or mango butters, and it’s best to avoid using cocoa butter in creams and balms made for dogs. They all have slightly different textures, so use the tips above to customise your consistency. For example, my shea butter is much firmer and slightly stickier/greasier than my mango butter.
- With the exception of a splash of Vitamin E oil, I generally make my balms plain; however, you can include other dog-safe add-ins or essential oils if you wish. Choose and use with care, especially if your dog is a licker or has sensitive skin.
- Butters and waxes can be tricky to clean-up. Making balm is an exception to my low-waste cleaning philosophy, and pans get a wipe with a disposable paper towel while still warm to remove any excess before washing. Better for the pans and safer for the plumbing.
- The shelf life of homemade dog paw balm depends on the best before life of your ingredients, storage, and handling. You can store extra balms cold or frozen to help extend their shelf life.
Dog Paw Balm Application Tips:
- No matter what your texture or ingredients, paw balms and waxes can be messy, but you can use a few tricks to help. Outdoor applications keep the mess outside. Indoors, a gentle paw massage when your dog is relaxed on their bed or blanket will let you work the balm in and give it time to soak in instead of it being tracked around the house. It’s great for your hands, too! Of course, treats always help with compliance at our place. Haha!
- Hard-set paw wax starts firm and softens with body heat. Scrape a small quantity of balm and warm it in your hands until it’s soft and easy to massage into your dog’s paws. It’s not unlike applying a thick skin cream, smoothing it in, and letting it absorb. Massaging will spread the balm all over the paw and help soak in faster than just slathering it on.
- A little goes a long way. If you’ve gone overboard and applied too much (or your dog wants to stop the s-paw treatment), you can wipe excess from the paws and your hands with a cloth.
- With or without balm, paw massage can feel great (and help your dog become comfortable with having their feet handled if that’s an issue). Check out these ideas from Fetch by WebMD for other dog paw care tips.
If you don’t have any of the ingredients, making your own paw balm might seem expensive at first glance, but it’s very affordable in the long run. Plus, you can use the ingredients for tons of other neat DIY personal care and beauty products – both human or dog. Why not make yourself a little extra paw balm and use it as your lip balm or foot rub? The balm smells rather nice as-is when made with natural beeswax, but you can add some essential oils to your human balms, such as peppermint for tired feet – feels and smells awesome! You can also add flavour oils to lip balms.